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  • Nancy McAleer

The Ultimate 101 Things to Do Away From the Beach List - Anna Maria Island


This is the Best, Ultimate and Epic list of 101 Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida that do not involve our gorgeous beaches.

This list is so incredible it blew my editing software counter back to zero after 99. You'll see when you get that far.

Today I sat down to help all of my followers on my social media platform Anna Maria Island Beach Life as well as our incoming guests navigate their way to an incredible holiday even on a rainy day. There are so many things to do, see, eat and enjoy in and around Anna Maria Island you are bound to carve out an amazing holiday even if you can't hit the beach.

The most important thing to remember with any vacation is that it will be what you make of it. So seize the day and make this adventure the best one you've ever had.

  1. Ride the Free Trolley and explore the local area

  2. Enjoy the sunset from one of the waterfront restaurants that grace the AMI beaches. The Sandbar, Waterfront, Beach Bistro, BeachHouse Restaurant are just a few.

  3. Head to Shiny Fish Emporium and paint a Sand Dollar to take home. It makes a great Christmas tree ornament. It’s also a wonderful piece of memorabilia of your visit.

  4. Sign up for a paint and sip class at ArtSpace on the north end of Anna Maria or better yet call my friend Cory Wright, local artist extraordinaire to paint your own portrait on AMI. An incredible keepsake. Find out more here.

  5. Shop some of the local boutiques that are incredible… Lily Pulitzer lovers head to Island Cabana in Anna Maria. Need an AMI tourist t-shirt? Head to Island Bazaar. The Sand Dollar, Saltair Boutique and Vintage Clothes are more faves in Holmes Beach.

  6. Grab the troop and head to The Fish Hole Adventure Golf on historic Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach for a game of mini putting.

  7. Explore Mote Marine Aquarium and learn about local marine life.

  8. Charter a deep sea fishing boat. Our local captains have their coveted fishing spots that they can take you to.

  9. Check out the parrots that line the sidewalk in the Holmes Beach Plaza and stop into one of the great shops for clothing, artwork and some great food too.

  10. Do a taste test of the best ice creamery on the island. Two Scoops if our pick but you can try an abundance of ice cream shops found throughout the island like Joe’s Eats and Sweets, Small Town Creamery, Dips and a ton more.

  11. Charter a sunset cruise on a catamaran ride with Kathleen D. A great way to feel the wind in your hair without a care crossing the Gulf waters.

  12. Find out which restaurant has the best fish tacos…. we vote for Tide Tables as #1.

  13. Head to nearby Bradenton’s South Florida Museum and learn about Florida’s treasures as well as find any rescued manatees inside.

  14. Rain got you down? A fun game of bowling in nearby Bradenton will keep your spirits up. Hey did you know they serve spirits while you bowl too? Find fun for the whole family not just adults.

  15. Active kids will love Treeumph. An obstacle course in the sky. Zip line your way around the trees and enjoy the outdoors.

  16. Find out what a Hawaiian Bubble tastes like at Shiny Fish Emporium.

  17. Grab the best burger on the island at Skinny’s… Duffy’s is pretty good too.

  18. Explore the island’s art galleries at various locations throughout Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.

  19. Go hiking at Leffis Key Preserve on the south end of the island. It has great paths to enjoy.

  20. Go bird watching at Neal Preserve.

  21. Rent a bike and ride along the Coquina Beach trail - several miles long.

  22. Fish from one of the island piers or your backyard dock. Note, Fishing license may be required. Check with the FWC for regulations.

  23. Swim in the pool at your favorite vacation rental!

  24. Play ping pong, Anna Maria Island Home Rental has them in all of our properties. We even have basketball too.

  25. Rent a kayak and head to the inter coastal waterway or Bimini Bay. Keep your eyes out for dolphins!

  26. Head to Anna Maria’s Museum (AMI Historical Society on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria) and discover how local islanders have lived on the island since it was founded. It’s usually open 10 am to 1 pm daily.

  27. Discover one of the oldest working fishing villages in the United States. Head to Cortez and learn all about fishing at the Florida Maritime Museum. Don’t forget to eat at Starfish Company and Tide Tables nearby both incredible and known world-wide.

  28. Make a Day trip and head out on one of the local charters to Egmont Key and explore this epic tranquil island.

  29. Learn how to ride a Segway with one of the local tours around the island.

  30. Rent a golf cart and toot your way around the island. Find out where the charging stations are here.

  31. Head out for a Day Excursion to nearby Busch Gardens

  32. Want to meet Winter the Dolphin that starred in A Dolphin’s Tale? He lives at nearby Clearwater Aquarium. A great place to visit with the kids.

  33. Do you have some water lovers in your group? Head to Adventure Island in Tampa for a day of slippery slide-y fun.

  34. A you a lover of shelling? Skip the beach and head to The Shell Shop - aka Raiders Reef in Holmes Beach. Pick up some lovely shells for a craft project or to decorate your home.

  35. Dance the night away at Island Time Bar and Grill or have some fun at The Ugly Grouper. There are always fun activities happening at this restaurant.

  36. Find something truly unique while grabbing breakfast or lunch at Ginny and Jane E’s. One of the more quirky island boutiques slash eateries on the island.

  37. Take a ride on The Island Pearl and incredible historic charter boat.

  38. No visit to Anna Maria Island is complete without a trip to The Donut Experiment in Anna Maria… Their donuts are ridiculously fresh!!!

  39. Give Captain Kathe a call and bring the whole family on one of her chartered tours. She is one of the most educated captains on the island that will reveal all of the incredible sea creatures that call Anna Maria Sound home.

  40. Experience history at The Bridge Tender Inn. Thousands of visitors flock to this local haunt to grab a beer and some local fare inside or dockside.

  41. Swing to your hearts content on the Bradenton Beach Bridge Street Pier. There is a swing at the end of it for you to enjoy and watch the world go by. Fun Fact… it used to be the bridge from mainland to island years ago!

  42. Find a kayak tour and learn about mangroves, shorebirds and marine life.

  43. Try SUP paddle boarding

  44. Get high as a kite and go parasailing - YOLO!

  45. Take a touristy photo at the Anna Maria Jail… No windows, No doors, No Guests in Years!

  46. Turtle Talks are a great way to get acquainted with the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch group who are the ‘God Mothers and Fathers’ of the many turtles who nest on the island annually. Find out more about Turtle Talk events and dates from their Facebook Group.

  47. Explore vintage finds at Pineapple Junktion in Anna Maria or The Sea Hagg’s in Cortez

  48. Head to The Sandbar Restaurant at Sunset and try to guess the sunset for a bottle of champagne!

  49. Head to the Anna Maria Island Community Center to keep up with your fitness goals, yoga and so much more with one of their classes. Did you know each guest of Anna Maria Island Home Rental has free access to the fitness center? Find out more here.

  50. Prepare an island feast in your vacation rental. Pick up the freshest local delicacies and cook up a feast on the grill or in the kitchen. Nothing takes better than fresh local Florida fruit and seafood.

  51. Head to the Doctor’s Office if you’re in need of a libation. This is a fun atmosphere and a great place to meet others and listen to music. We love to head here for date night.

  52. Want the best most highest view of the Gulf while eating a tasty local meal? Head to the Rod n Reel pier. We love their breakfasts and watching the rays swim by and a dolphin or two is always fun.

  53. Rent a cool little scooter car from Robin Hood Rentals in Anna Maria and explore the island.

  54. Try something totally cool and fun with Flyboarding! A super fun way to jet yourself up into the sky and dive into the water with an experienced guide.

  55. Enjoy one of our most memorable experiences with a horseback ride with our preferred vendor C-ponies. They have beautiful drum ponies to ride in the water and they even swim with you on them. Check out our article all about C-Ponies here.

  56. Pamper yourself and book some me time at one of the great local salons around the island. Better yet… book a massage in a tiki hut on the beach with Sea-renity Spa.

  57. Don’t feel like cooking at home? Contact a local caterer to put together an epic spread for you and your group. Our go to gal is A.J. from The Loft 5. We love everything she does!

  58. Lie in a hammock and enjoy an epic summer beach book. Mary Kay Andrews wrote a beach novel called Ladies’ Night with Anna Maria Island as the backdrop.

  59. Try out a yoga class. There are a few offerings throughout the island, with a few free classes on the beach.

  60. Got kids? Head to the Bayfront Park or the Skateboard Park at Holmes Beach. Both locations will be a hit with the kids.

  61. Take a piece of Anna Maria home with you from one of my fave jewelry shops on Bridge Street Pier. I love, love, love the longitude Latitude rings and necklaces that are sold at Tide and Moon Jewelry there.

  62. Got a golfer in your group? There are several golf courses in nearby Bradenton. The one on the island Key Royale is for private members. Timber Creek and Pinebrook Ironwood are great options.

  63. Do you love the theater? Find out what’s playing at the local Island Players Community Theatre at 10009 Gulf Drive, in Anna Maria. Check out their website for play dates and times.

  64. If you are visiting during the Spring or Winter don’t miss out on the Art’s and Crafts Show called Springfest and Winterfest. A great way to experience local artist treasures, listen to music and taste some great food.

  65. Don’t forget Bayfest a huge music festival in Anna Maria that takes place each year in October.

  66. Check out one of the local markets including the Bridge Street Markets and Coquina Beach Market. There are lots of jewelry, fruits and produce and collectibles sold at these great venues.

  67. Snorkelling your thing? Rent a boat and head out to Egmont Key or jump on a charter to take you there. It’s a great spot to snorkel through the crystal clear waters and find some local marine life.

  68. Take a Day trip to Egmont Key and explore this wonderful state park that used to be a military fort from the 1800’s. The lighthouse still stands as do a few of the old roads and ruins next to the amazing pristine shoreline.

  69. Need some vitamin C? Head to Mixon Fruit Farms in nearby Bradenton direct from the growers. Tour the grove, enjoy Mixon’s Play Place or their Wildlife Refuge.

  70. Climb the observation tower at Robinson Preserve and view the incredible wildlife that calls Florida home.

  71. Hit my fave Mexican joint… Poppo’s Taqueria. Ask for their fried corn quesadilla with beef… Spicy but sooo good!

  72. Eat all the pancakes you can at The Beach Cafe….. not sure why but visitors love to indulge in this "All You Can Eat" activity while wearing their bikinis. Yikes!

  73. Ever ridden on a scooter? This is the perfect opportunity to buzz around the island on one. Stop off at epic locations like Bean Point, White Avenue to watch the surfers when the surfs up and the piers for a cool beverage.

  74. Speaking of surfing… you can not leave the island without heading to the oldest surf shop in Florida. West Coast Surf Shop is the best place to buy a bikini, surf board, skim board, lifeguard hat and so much more. Our kids love their surf camp they put on every summer. Worth every penny and the memories will last forever.;

  75. Take a leisure drive around the island on your bike, golf cart, car, or even a gentle stroll and enjoy the gorgeous architecture and coastal dreamy cottages. Our beautiful homes will have you dreaming of fun Florida colors and Coastal Living for years to come. Better yet… buy a house and come live in paradise! There’s a Home Tour that happens each spring check out our blog post about it here.

  76. Are you celebrating something special? Then you must head over to The Beach Bistro. Rated as one of the top 11 restaurants in the USA by Zagat, this is our absolute must do for any special occasion. Pricey but heavenly and right on the beach.

  77. Search out some great local music at an abundance of local restaurants and bars. Harry’s Grill, The Sandbar, The Ugly Grouper, Island Time Bar and Grill, The Doctor’s Office are a few choices where you can enjoy listening to great local music.

  78. The Bradenton Blues Festival is another great choice for music lovers who are visiting in December.

  79. Need to do some man shopping? Head to my pick for men at AMI Outfitters. You may note be able to pick up a man but you can definitely find a ton of options for the men in your life. They offer fishing gear and tons of outfitting options as well as tour information. Get there!

  80. Head to nearby Ellenton Outlet for some name brand shopping, we prefer our local shops on the island but hey if you need running shoes, etc… it’s a great place to go for the day. We’ve also done an afternoon trip to the University Town Center in Sarasota which offers more high end shopping… but I really go to indulge in the great food at Brio a Tuscan Grill located there.

  81. If you are here in March and you love baseball, check out Spring Training Baseball! The Pittsburgh Pirates play at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. There are also 5 other teams play within a hour’s drive of Anna Maria. Then April-September is minor league baseball - great for kids!

  82. If you know anything about me you know I love NHL hockey. The Ottawa Senators are my team but my second favorite team are the Tampa Bay Lightning which plays from October to May and honestly, it is the ultimate hockey arena I have ever been in…. and I’ve been in a LOT! Where else can you go to watch an ice hockey game with shorts and flip flops on? Get there!

  83. Tampa also has football at the Buccaneers stadium from September to January, as well as Indoor American football with the Tampa Bay Storm from January to May.

  84. Speaking of trips to Tampa… my kids are also nutty about the Tampa Aquarium. It’s a GREAT place to take the little ones to see a ton of different species out of the sun.

  85. Visit the Anna Maria Island Privateers pirate ship in Holmes Beach. It’s usually parked outside the police department until the privateers take it out for parades and charity events. It’s a fun idea for a touristy photo op.

  86. Stroll along and learn about America’s Greenest Main Street on Pine Avenue, on the north end in the village of Anna Maria. The Historic Green Village is one out of 100 places worldwide to have achieved the highest possible green building standard. All of the information about the village is located at the General Store. I love the Key West style shops like the General Store, Hometown Desserts, AMI Outfitters, Olive Outpost, Pink & Navy, Island Cabana, Flip Flop Candy Stop and Beach Bums. A definite must do when visiting Anna Maria Island.

  87. Go on a treasure hunt and search for painted rocks found throughout the island by a local group of people full of sunshine. Join their Facebook Group called AMI Rocks 7 miles of smiles and find out about their latest treasures to find.

  88. Snuggle up if it’s raining and enjoy watching a beach themed movie at your vacation rental on Netflix or head out to the Bradenton Oakmount Theater at 4901 Cortez Road West, Bradenton

  89. Visit the Bradenton Beach Library or the Tingley Memorial Library to enjoy a great book. You can sign up for a library card during your visit if you’d like to take a book out to enjoy.

  90. Visit the Wildlife Inc Education & Rehabilitation Center now located at Mixon Fruit Farms. 2525 27th Street East Bradenton, FL. Daily tours are at 11am, 1pm, 3pm. Summer tours 11am, 1pm. We love this local non-profit organization that is based on the island and has quickly become one of the largest in Manatee County. These folks are great and we highly recommend donating to their organization if you love our local wildlife. They have saved thousands of animals and are ranked #1 in the entire United States.

  91. OK… if you’ve read this far you deserve a treat! Head to Cupcake Delights in Holmes Beach for one of THE BEST CUPCAKES you have ever eaten. It’s in a sweet treat shop designed in beachy turquoise and pink and full of fun. They will even take custom orders on cakes if you need help celebrating on AMI. Insider Tip: Sign up for their rewards program to eat free cupcakes!

  92. My kids love playing in our backyard pools and nothing makes the pool more fun than a humungous floaty. All the rage now I have to admit I really love the large pineapple one we just bought at Island Bazaar. There are tons of options to find these inflatable pool toys throughout the island, Publix also sells them but you can buy them at a lot of different shops.

  93. I almost forgot… you can scuba dive too! Sea Kat Divers and Beach Bum Divers both offer scuba diving off of Anna Maria Island. Spanish Rocks Reef and The Shipwreck Regina off of Bradenton Beach are two great options to try. Ask about their open water certification courses too.

  94. Visitors will also enjoy The Ringling Art Gallery and Museum in nearby Sarasota. The gardens are beautiful as is John & Mable Ringling's mansion, miniature circus and more fun things to see and do.

  95. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is also found in nearby Sarasota and is an ever-growing large-animal rescue. This is a non-profit sanctuary and the permanent home for dozens of exotic animals, offering placement for animals in need, and works to educate the public about animal care and conservation.

  96. Board games are not boring…. I love them! If you are visiting and need to spend some time away from the beaches what better way to reconnect with your family than some fun playing classic games like Scrabble, Yatzee, Monopoly and Life. If you’re staying at a great vacation rental they will have them stocked for you like we do.

  97. Bird watching. It’s Fun! Buy a book to help you identify the local wildlife and head out with your group to tour around the island in search of these epic creatures. You’ll find, Pelicans, ibis, white egrets, blue herons, wild green parrots, anhingas, royal terns, cute little plovers and if you’re lucky my favorite Florida bird, the Roseate Spoonbill.

  98. Adults only! Work your way around the island in search of the perfect Florida Vacation Cocktail. There are a lot of options on the island to choose from and many of them offer Happy Hour practically all day! I love a good frozen strawberry margarita. Find your fave by visiting The Waterfront Restaurant, Doctor’s Office, The Sandbar, Beach House, Mar Vista Restaurant, Bridge Tender Inn, Ugly Grouper and more I’m sure I forgot to list by now.

  99. Flea Markets. We got em. The Red Barn Flea Market on 301 in Bradenton is a huge building that you can’t miss. Explore tons of treasures and snacks to eat.

  100. Make an old fashioned vacation video. We love taking our family videos that we capture while on vacation and putting them together into a movie format using easy apps like iMovie. It's a really great way to relive your moments together and replaces our old 8 mm films that our parents always took.

  101. I know, I know, I know, I promised 101 things to do... but the Henna Tatoo shop gave me a shout out and reminded me that they have great henna tatoos that are temporary. Head to the little shop next to Robinhood Rentals on Gulf Dr and Pine Ave in Anna Maria.

  102. OK... we are really pushing it here but these cool new Cortez Donut Boats just opened up shop and they look really cool. I can't wait to try them. They say that these "Electric Donut Boats are perfect for the "hole" family, friends, & dog friendly! With room for up to 10 people," Just over the bridge on Cortez Road in Cortez.

  103. Book a return trip to Anna Maria Island for next year. Many of our guests and visitors become seriously addicted to AMI as we are. With each visit you peel back more layers of Anna Maria that you never discovered before. It’s a great idea to book your vacation rental at least one year in advance. The addicts know that the best spots are reserved far in advance.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this epic and ultimate list of all lists of things to do on Anna Maria Island that do not include the beaches and have found some items that are just perfect for your dream vacation. I'd love to hear your thoughts and any other ideas I may not have included in the comments below.

Don’t forget to post and organize your amazing vacation photos of all the things that you’ve done and experienced during your stay on Anna Maria Island. Be sure to share them on our Facebook Page or tag us on Instagram (@annamariaislandbeachlife) If you can’t enjoy the beaches because of the pockets of rain, red tide or because of a really bad sunburn we hope this list will help you still enjoy your visit and create memories for years to come!

Start searching for your dream vacation rental at Anna Maria Island Home Rental. There are so many benefits to booking directly with us.

  • Save the Online Travel Agency Booking Fees - averaging $200-300 per reservation

  • Enjoy Free Access to the Community Fitness Center

  • Enjoy the extra luxuries like huge fluffy beach towels, luxurious bath towels and linens

  • Cook to your hearts content with our fully outfitted kitchens (check out reviews people comment on this often)

  • Enjoy fun and resort-like backyards some with backyard beaches, tiki huts, hammocks, outdoor tv's, and more .

  • All our properties have heated pools and hot tubs.

  • Beach cart, beach chairs, umbrellas and fun toys

  • We help you fully curate your dream vacation by answering any question you have and connecting with our network of trusted island operators

#101ThingstoDo #redtide #rainyday

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